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Even if you did not notice the writing, you could have identified the military insignia on
the man's uniform as that of a lieutenant colonel in the the Air Signal Corps. The date
on the calendar indicates August 1917. Searching for a well known lieutenant colonel
in the signal corps in 1917 may have gotten you to Bingham.
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|Answers to Quiz #315
July 24, 2011
1. Hiram Bingham rediscovered and excavated
Machu Pichu, exactly 100 years ago this week.
2. Lieutenant Colonel, US Air Signal Corps
3. Indiana Jones
|This week's quiz photo was submitted by Quizmaster Emeritus Stan Read.
1. What is this man's claim to fame?
2. What rank in what branch of the military does he hold in this picture?
3. What fictional character is said to have been modeled after him?
|Congratulations to Our Winners!
Janice M. Sellers Marjorie Wilser
Brad Labine Shirley Hamblin
Arthur Hartwell Nicole Blank
Alex Sissoev Margreet Brouwer
Paula Naujalis Robert W. Steinmann Jr.
Gary Sterne Marilyn Hamill
Margaret Paxton Carol Farrant
Rebecca Bare Angel Esparza
Lorraine Wright Teresa Yu Talea Jurrens
Judy Pfaff Donna Jolley
Stephen Jolley Collier Smith
Patty Kiker Dennis Brann
Tom McEntee Jim Kiser
Mike Dalton Robin Spence
Peter Norton Frank Nollette
Don Draper Evan Hindman
Diane Burkett Daniel E. Jolley
|Comments from Our Readers
|The reversed handwriting at the bottom of the photo appears to say Lt, (Col.) Hirman
(sic) Bingham - (possibly) Aviation Sct(?) According to Wikipedia, the photo was taken
on a glass negative, so the writing may well have been on the negative. The mistakes in
rank (originally leaving off the Colonel!) and the misspelling of the first name lead me to
believe that the photographer may have been the writer, but it seems an odd practice.
It is difficult, in a black-and-white photograph, to determine the color of the rank
insignia on the epaulet, so he's possibly still major, but I'm going to suggest that the
good officer would have the current (and next) month more directly in front of him at
this desk, so that the photo was taken in November. Bingham's promotion to lieutenant
colonel was October 25, 1917.
How's that for seat-of-the-pants flying? Peter Norton
I wondered if this photo was taken as kind of a celebration or recognition for his
appointment as a Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army Signal Corps (aviation section) because that
took place in 1917. The crossed flags insignia reminded me of doing semaphore signals
(2 flags) as a Scout leader. By the time Bingham was involved the Signal Corps was
well advanced into the electronic age. I read that, in 1918, “Radio telephones developed
by the Signal Corps were introduced into the European Theater”. Don Draper
This was a great puzzle and required a lot of research of WWI uniforms and
insignas.I finally photoshopped the photo, reversed it and came up with his name by
using a filter. I don't believe I'd would have solved it any other way. Jim Kiser
Well, the reversed handwriting did slow it down a bit, but not too much! Being a
letterpress printer I'm now used to reading backwards. Once I got Bingham I
remembered his given name Hiram (which at first I had tried to make into Herman
despite the dotted i). I had hopes of the subsequent writing showing more about him
but it says "Archival File." Oh well!
Thanks Colleen! Another very interesting one. No matter how "fast" they are, they
always let us learn something. Marjorie Wilser
Reversing the photo to mirror image did the trick - can't believe I missed such an
important clue! I was focused on the calendars in the picture. Nicole Blank
What's interesting - if I do have an absolutely favorite fictional character at all, it's
INDIANA JONES!!! Alex Sissoev
Do you know that his name is on the picture? When you flip the picture horizontal you
can read his name. It was a very big help for me. Margreet Brouwer
an easy one...took data off of the photo-used in Google: Lt. Col - Signal Corps - pilot -
WWI - and 'explorer' from the file name of your photo and I kind of had a feeling it
was Indiana Jones anyway! First hit gave me the answer of Hiram Bingham.
Great work by Daniel Jolley on finding the Google Book reference, re: Real Photo
Postcard Guide: The People's Photography. What is the chance of your quiz answer
corresponding EXACTLY 100 years with the first date of manufacture of the Artura
postcard [23 July 1911], given in the quiz? ABSOLUTELY AMAZING !!!!!!!
Robert W. Steinmann Jr.
I noticed the text at the bottom of the picture. I flipped it horizontally and got his name,
Hiram Bingham III. Gary Sterne
Finally found the writing. I didn't know that the Signal Corp had an Aviation Section.
Learned something. Hiram certainly was capable of handling a variety of occupations.
As you said, quite a guy. Arthur Hartwell
Yes, I [knew about Hiram]. There is a special circulating on either the Discovery or the History Channel. They
made it before one of the new movies came out. I didn't quite remember his name though, so I searched for Indie's
I have spent hours reading the National Geographic articles and now find this charming
little book. I read the first few pages, and it seems that Hiram was pretty game to try
anything. http://tiny.cc/tquun Marilyn Hamill
Why don't they make them ALL like that? - Q. Gen.
I'd be content with ONE. ;)
I searched all over for WWI fictional heroes. Wrong! All I had to do was look at the
writing on the bottom of the picture. When I flipped it over it was easy enough to see
that it is Hiram Bingham (the III). He was a lieutenant colonel in the Air Service (aka
Air Force) in this picture. He is one of several people who have been thought to be the
inspiration for Indiana Jones. Reading about his life, it is easy to see how that
connection was made. As for his claim to fame, that is probably his rediscovery and
excavation of Machu Picchu and his help in bringing it to the attention of the world
with the help of his book, “Lost City of the Incas”. But he was also the Lieutenant
Governor of Connecticut, then the Governor and then the US Senator from
Connecticut. Those are pretty impressive achievements, too. I had to laugh when I
looked at that picture. I started working for the federal government in the mid-1970’s.
The desk I sat behind looked like the one in the picture. It’s clear the federal
government didn’t hire any interior decorators for over fifty years. Carol Farrant
This was difficult until I discovered the backward signature on the enlarged picture. I
Googled the name as I saw it and Hiram Bingham popped up. Then, I remembered that
he has been in the news because it was 100 years ago this week that he made his
discovery. Rebecca Bare
I thought there might be something there [in the corner] but I was fixated on finding a
WWI ace and didn't know how to flip it. With your clue, I hunted for a solution and
found pixenate.com to flip it to the mirror image.
I get it now. Explorer, duh.
I kinda doubt if he and Frank Luke would have hit it off. Luke wasn't exactly a stickler
for the rules and it looks like Bingham distinguished himself in his career both in the
military and after since the U.S. Senate is one of the most exclusive clubs in the world.
It was interesting that he was behind the establishment of the Distinguished Flying
Cross. Patty Kiker
I had to say rediscover. We were all taught that Christopher Columbus “discovered”
America . Or, as any good Norwegian (½ of me) learned, Leif Erickson made the
“discovery”. Or, as the Irish (☺) might claim, it was some guy named St. Brendon.
America wasn’t lost either. People were living here. Chris, Leif and Brendon just got
the word out like Hiram did. Chris was perhaps the chattiest.
I’ll get off the soap box now and lower myself to less than intellectual pursuit. Hiram
was a hunk! Carol Farrant (again)
He was a former governor of my home state of CT and Bingham Hall at Yale Univ. is
named after him. Dennis Brann
N.B. Is Binghamton, NY named for him too? - Q. Gen.
No, Binghamton was not named after him; nor was Dennis MA named after me even
though I lived there for several years!! Now I live and play tennis in Venice (FL). Yes,
many people would consider me to be a menace! Dennis Brann
It seems that more than one person can be used as a fictional character model; that is,
the author or playwriter may create a composite character out of more than one real
person. Back in the early 20th Century, polar explorations were in the vogue and I first
thought that this guy was foreign. Mike Dalton
|Click on thumbnail to read
Hiram Bingham III's book
An Explorer in the Air Service
Or click here.
|The real tomb raiders - who was the inspiration for Indy?
In the early 1900s, an explorer named Roy Chapman
Andrews led expeditions to the Arctic, to China, and to
Mongolia - he's the man credited with using the phrase
"Outer Mongolia'' to designate a remote place. He
discovered dinosaur eggs and mastodon fossils for the
Museum of Natural History in New York, where he
later became the director. The museum says he may
have been the real person that Indiana Jones was
In 1911, an archeology lecturer at Yale University with
the extravagant name of Hiram Bingham III found the
lost Inca city of Machu Picchu. His book Lost City of
the Incas was a best-seller in 1946. He is often cited
as one of the inspirations for Indiana Jones.
In 1925, a British explorer with the even more extravagant name of Percy Harrison
Fawcett disappeared in the jungles of Brazil while searching for a lost city. He too may
have been a model for Indiana Jones, as well as for Kent Allard, the alter ego of the old
radio crime-buster The Shadow.
Since the 1960s, one of the controversial archeologists in the Middle East has been
Vendyl Jones, who has conducted a search for the Holy Ark of the Covenant. He has
claimed to be the inspiration for Indiana Jones, pointing out that if you take off the first
and last letters of his name, you get Endy Jones. However, the men
behind Indiana Jones, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, say that
"Indiana'' was actually the name of Lucas's Alaskan malamute - the
dog that also lent its look to Chewbacca in Star Wars - and that
Spielberg suggested the name "Jones,'' which was originally
supposed to be "Smith.''
And those are just the explorers: the Indiana Jones canon is filled
with rumours, speculations and real-life histories that together
make up a character who is both unique and part of the mythos of
Western culture. There have been heroes like Indy for more than a
hundred years: actual archeologists, comic book figures, adventurers in novels, even
movie characters. If you dig deeply around the Temple of Indiana Jones you'll come up
with all sorts of likely inspirations, characters like Harry Steele, a daring explorer who
wears a fedora and a leather jacket and goes into the jungles of Peru, just like Hiram
Bingham III did, to find the treasures of Machu Picchu, fighting off shady rivals who
want to beat his claim. Moreover, Steele has the same gritty magnetism as Harrison
Ford: he's played by the late Charlton Heston in Secret of the
Incas, a 1954 movie that doesn't have Indiana Jones-style
escapes but has a lot of Indy-style subtext.
Lucas and Spielberg acknowledge their debt to history in the
creation of Indiana Jones: he's inspired by a lot of storybook
figures and legendary characters, and in fact he has
overwhelmed them. Fan sites such as Theraider. net can list
dozens of influences, from the whip carried by Zorro in Zorro
Rides Again to the escape from rolling boulders in the Uncle
Scrooge comic The Seven Cities of Cibola (Scrooge McDuck
was an indefatigable explorer in a series of comic books.) Indeed, Lucas has said that
the visual inspiration for the series came from a card in a movie lobby showing Zorro
jumping from a horse to a truck.
Indy-like characters also filled with 1930s and `40s serials, to which Indiana Jones
films are an homage: the cliffhangers that put the hero in an impossible position - locked
in a cave, dropped into a snake pit - and then pull him back out with improbably
derring-do. Lucas says he was inspired by those serials: Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers,
Tim Tyler's Luck, Zorro, and particularly Don Winslow of the Navy, a U.S. serviceman
who toured the world fighting Nazis.
"I began thinking it'd be a good idea to have an archeologist in a 1930s- style serial - the
big shift would be that he was a grave robber who actually
finds supernatural artifacts,'' he says in the encyclopedic
The Complete Making of Indiana Jones. Some of "Indiana
Smith'' actually appeared in the first Star Wars scripts,
where Luke Skywalker meets "an aged and scruffy
anthropologist'' named Owen Lars.
Much of the appeal of Indiana Jones comes in that nostalgic
tone. From the Victorian age of exploration to the Second
World War era of Indy, the public was thrilled by stories of
brave men finding the mouths of legendary rivers or the
secrets of what used to be called Darkest Africa. H. Rider
Haggard was one of several writers - Edgar Rice Burroughs, the creator of Tarzan, was
another - who thrilled young readers with stories that have the familiar Indy ingredients.
In She, which was turned into a movie in 1935, Randolph Scott ventures into the
Russian arctic to find a lost city and the secret of eternal life. In King Solomon's Mines,
hardy adventurer Allan Quatermain looks for a lost world in Africa. (The movie was
filmed several times, most memorably in 1950 with Stewart Granger.)
Some of the nostalgia comes once removed: cultural expert Robert Thompson says that
while Indiana Jones may evoke 1940s serials for an older audience, the new movie is a
bit of nostalgia for Raiders of the Lost Ark for the 30- something crowd.
"For a lot of people, Indiana Jones made them almost taste that candy you get in the
theatre again,'' says Thompson, who heads the Bleier Center for
Television and Popular Culture at the Syracuse University.
"People who were kids when that movie first came out are going
to watch it nostalgic for the good old days when they saw the
first movie, which they never associated with anything else.
Every now and then you can get something that can jump
generations with nostalgia.'' It's a powerful force: Thompson
says he can get a rise out of his students just by figuring out
what was popular when they were about 10 years old. "I don't
even need to tell a joke,'' he said in an interview. "I just simply
need to name a character from a show from that period and they'll go crazy about it.''
There aren't many hidden cities or lost mines for today's adventurers to explore; they
have to go to the moon to do it, or into an unexplored cyberspace that is evoked by
such movies as The Matrix, which Thompson calls the turn-of- the-century version of
the archeology adventures stories that Indiana Jones is playing off.
"All that having been said though,'' adds Thompson, "if you can still take the old movie
serial notion of an adventurer getting into constant, action- packed excitement, you
could tell those stories in 1938, you could tell them in 2008 and I'm sure you'll be able
to tell them in 2448, if you tell a really good story.''
|How Collier Solved the Puzzle
|I flopped the picture and enlarged it to read the inscription at the
bottom. "Herman Bingham...". When this misleading hint didn't
pan out, I tried googling "hirman bingham" and Google kept trying to
substitute "Hiram Bingham". So finally I thought "Why not?" and
there on the wiki page for Hiram B was your picture!
Enlarging the picture also shows the rank insignia and branch insignia.
That wiki page also mentions Indiana Jones, but by then I had already
guessed Indy was the answer.
Google is pretty smart. Sometimes if I am not sure of the spelling of
something, or I can't read some handwriting, I Google it and see
what comes up. I did that on the last quiz - I could not read "Grand
Forks", but when I guess (even something really garbled), along with
a few other key words, I came up with, it straightened me out right
|Remark from the Quizmaster General
Noticing the writing at the bottom was the key to the puzzle. That's why I thought this
picture would make a good quiz.
Top: Writing at the lower right corner of the picture; Bottom: Writing
reversed, reads Lt. Col. Hiram Bingham...
|There was an additional clue. Clicking on the thumbnail
would have brought up the full resolution version of the
picture with the filename "explorer".Googling the keywords
"famous Air Corp Lieutenant Colonel" +explorer might have
done the trick.
|U.S. Air Signal Corp Insignia
oak leaf insignia if silver;
Major if bronze/copper/gold
|Calendar starting with Aug 1917
|One hundred years ago
today, Yale professor
Hiram Bingham III
found the vine-covered
ruins of the ancient Inca
city Machu Picchu. The
so-called "Lost City of
the Incas," had
forgotten for centuries
Hiram Bingham was born in Honolulu, Hawai'i, to Hiram
Bingham II (1831-1908), an early Protestant missionary to
the Kingdom of Hawai'i, the grandson of Hiram Bingham I
(1789–1869), another missionary. He attended Punahou
School and O'ahu College in Hawai'i from 1882 to 1892.
He returned to the United States in his teens in order to
complete his education, entering Phillips Academy in
Andover, Massachusetts, from which he graduated in
1894. He obtained a degree from Yale University in 1898,
a degree from the University of California, Berkeley in
1900, and a degree from Harvard University in 1905.
While at University, Bingham was a member of Acacia
Fraternity. He taught history and politics at Harvard and
then served as preceptor under Woodrow Wilson at
Princeton University. In 1907, Yale University appointed
Bingham III as a lecturer in South American history.
It was during Bingham's time as a lecturer — later professor — at Yale that he
rediscovered the largely forgotten Incan city of Machu Picchu. In 1908, he had served
as delegate to the First Pan American Scientific Congress at Santiago, Chile. On his
way home via Peru, a local prefect convinced him to visit the pre-Columbian city of
Choquequirao. Bingham published an account of this trip
in Across South America; an account of a journey from
Buenos Aires to Lima by way of Potosí, with notes on
Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Peru.
Bingham was thrilled by the prospect of unexplored Incan
cities, and in 1911 returned to the Andes with the Yale
Peruvian Expedition of 1911. On 24 July 1911, Melchor
Arteaga led Bingham to Machu Picchu, which had been
largely forgotten by everybody except the small number
of people living in the immediate valley (possibly including
two local missionaries named Thomas Paine and Stuart
McNairn whose descendants claim that they had already
climbed to the ruins in 1906).
Bingham returned to Peru in 1912 and 1915 with the support of Yale and the National
Machu Picchu has become one of the major tourist attractions in South America, and
Bingham is recognized as the man who brought the site to world attention, although
many others contributed to the archaeological resurrection of the site. The
switchback-filled road that carries tourist buses to the site from the Urubamba River is
called the Hiram Bingham Highway.
Bingham has been cited as one possible basis for the 'Indiana Jones' character. His book
Lost City of the Incas became a bestseller upon its publication in 1948.
|despite the presence of Spanish invaders, whose troops fought a long
military campaign nearly 300 years earlier to conquer what had been
the continent's largest empire.
Of course, "lost" is a matter of perspective as the locals were well
aware of the Inca citadel, which was built sometime in the 1400s and
then abandoned in the middle of the 16th century. But Bingham's
discovery reintroduced Machu Picchu's wonders to the world and
this amazing complex of temples and palaces, which sits 8,000 feet
above sea level, now attracts 250000 visitors each year.
|Machu Picchu is a
15th-century Inca site
located 2,430 metres
(7,970 ft) above sea
level. It is situated
on a mountain ridge above
the Urubamba Valley in
Peru, which is 80
kilometres (50 mi)
northwest of Cusco and
through which the
|River flows. Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built
as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472). Often
referred to as the "Lost City of the Incas", it is perhaps the most
familiar icon of the Inca World.
The Incas started building the "estate" around AD 1400, but
abandoned it as an official site for the Inca rulers a century later at
the time of the Spanish Conquest. Although known locally, it was
unknown to the outside world before being brought to international
attention in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham. Since
then, Machu Picchu has become an important tourist attraction. Most
of the outlying buildings have been reconstructed in order to give
tourists a better idea of what the structures originally looked like. By
1976, thirty percent of Machu Picchu had been restored. The
restoration work continues to this day.
Since the site was never known to the Spanish during their conquest,
it is highly significant as a relatively intact cultural site. Machu Picchu
was declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO
World Heritage Site in 1983. In 2007, Machu Picchu was voted one
of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a worldwide Internet poll.
Machu Picchu was built in the classical Inca style, with polished dry-
stone walls. Its three primary buildings are the Intihuatana, the
Temple of the Sun, and the Room of the Three Windows. These are
located in what is known by archaeologists as the Sacred District of
Machu Picchu. In September 2007, Peru and Yale University almost
reached an agreement regarding the return of artifacts which Yale has
held since Hiram Bingham removed them from Machu Picchu in the
early 20th century. In November 2010, a Yale University
representative agreed to return the artifacts to a Peruvian university.
|Tempe of the Sun, Machu Pichu